Young people and drugs

Drugs that are used, sold or manufactured illegally are called illicit drugs. They can cause serious damage to young people. You can be exposed to drugs when you are out socialising or through friends, the media and even family. Learning more about them can help you make good decisions about their use so check out the web resources listed below.

How drugs affect every part of your life

Using these drugs can affect every part of your life:

  • physical health
  • emotional
  • financial
  • social
  • mental health.


Different drugs can have different risks. But all of them can lead to serious health problems and can be fatal. Here are just a few examples of the effects of drugs:

  • seizures
  • black outs
  • psychosis
  • breathing problems.

You can overdose on illicit drugs and there is a real risk of death. Illicit drugs vary in purity and strength so there is no safe amount that you can use. It’s impossible to know exactly what’s in them or with what they have been mixed. Every time you use them, you can have a different reaction.

Visit The risks of using drugs page for more about the effects and harms of specific drugs.


As your body adapts to the presence of a drug, more is needed to get the same effect. You develop tolerance. Dependence can occur with regular use. Your thinking and actions become centred around the drug. If you stop or reduce your use, you can experience cravings for the drug.

Being dependent on drugs can lead to lots of problems:

  • having no money left for rent or food because you've spent it all on drugs
  • getting into trouble with the law because of the way you act when using
  • fighting with your family or partner because they are worried about you
  • getting really sick from whatever it is that you've taken
  • losing your job or failing school.

Drug driving

Drugs make driving extremely dangerous as they affect your ability to assess risks, your vision and your judgement.

Under the Road Traffic Act 1961, it is an offence to drive or attempt to drive with THC (cannabis) (PDF 123KB), Methylamphetamine (amphetamine) (PDF 126KB) or MDMA (ecstasy) (PDF 122KB) present in your oral fluid or blood and, if you are driving, you can be tested for each of these drug types. Police conduct random saliva tests to detect the presence of illegal drugs. The test is non-invasive and takes approximately five minutes to complete. It is accurate and reliable.

Visit the Illicit drug laws page for more information about driving with drugs present in your system.

For more information